Ending stigma and discrimination

Exclusion is HIV silent weapon

The right to health is regonised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Intenational Covenant of Rights of Persons with Disabillties. Stigma and discrimination impedes people's ability to access quality health services that respect the dignity of all users and contributes to spreading further HIV and AIDS and STIs. It is incumbent upon governments, which should collaborate with health workers, civil society and members of stigmatised populations, to develop and implement comprehensive strategies to reduce and eliminate this stigma and discrimination; but also to all of individuals in society and at community level to put an end to social stigma.

Through the below photo documentary titled Exclusion is HIV Silent Weapon ACORD was able to highlight the plight of hard to reach communities in ther  access to health services and treatment which has been hindered due to stigman and discrimination. 

Watch video documentary below

The hard to reach communities include sexual minority groups LGBQTTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, intersex, and questioning communities), ethnic minorities, women and girls survivors of sexual violence, refugees/IDPs, people with disabilities.

UNAIDS 2011 Political Declaration:

Elimination commitments by 2015

UNAIDS 2011 Political Declaration: elimination commitments by 2015
Zero discrimination = eliminate stigma and discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV through promotion of laws and policies that ensure the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
ACORD's objectives in an effort to fight HIV and AIDS affecting minorities, include an improved awareness among health care providers, community leaders and the general public on minorities and existing impeding factors violating their right to health. Secondly improve knowledge of health care providers, community leaders and the general public, on the linkages between stigma, minorities and health (in particular HIV and AIDS). Thirdly, reduced prejudice against minorities improving their access to health and prevention and reducing violence. Fourthly, reduced self-stigma among minorities through increased number of advocacy actions led by minorities groups themselves. Fifthly, ensure availability of avenues in the media, the workplace and at community levels to discuss issues of stigma in comparison to social inclusion. Lastly, improve the collaboration between key stakeholders when addressing stigma-related issues at local, national and regional level

ACORD team at the 16th International Conferenceon AIDS and
STIs in Africa Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, December 2011
Progress has been made in addressing HIV and AIDS but some communities and groups have been left out and are still very much excluded hence most at risk of both spreading and suffering from the disease. ACORD has approached them as ‘hard to reach communities'.Those groups and communities are marginalised and stereotyped; stigma must stop to leave space to inclusion and equal rights.If we do not address stigma and discrimination, HIV and AIDS will win.
ACORD has been working on HIV and AIDS and on reducing stigma and discrimination for the past 15 years, and has successfully implemented the Stepping Stones methodology in several countries, as an efficient approach to influence positive attitudes and as a HIV and AIDS prevention tool.
Stepping Stones is a training and education process that involves working with people over a period of 12 to 18 weeks3 during which time they undergo a process of group exploration and develop the ability to look critically at the societal norms and values influencing their own attitudes and behaviours. As the process moves on, they identify ways in which these attitudes and behaviours may need to be changed in order to protect themselves and others from HIV and associated risks and, to bring about more general life changes and improvements, such as improved communication with partners and children, more understanding and caring for others and increased self-respect.
Stepping Stones evaluations, ranging from personal testimonies provided by individual participants to rigorous large-scale surveys using scientific research methods, indicate that Stepping Stones has transformed the lives of many individuals and whole communities in very positive ways and has helped people and communities to be better equipped to face the challenges of HIV and AIDS and to work together to support each other and care for those already infected by the virus.
Some of the unique characteristics and guiding principles of Stepping Stones that account for the popularity and effectiveness of this approach include:
• Recognising that behaviour change does not necessarily follow a rational path: it is a process that requires time to develop and must be led from within each of  us
• Recognising the power of the group dynamic which reinforces change at the level of theindividual
• Recognising that community ownership is key to any behaviour change
• Using participatory methodologies to enable all community members, including those who are not literate, to participate on an equal basis
• Recognising that individual change is strengthened and reinforced by the group   dynamic and collective change
• Recognising that HIV and AIDS cannot be addressed without challenging unequal  gender relations and opening up communication and dialogue about the taboo  subjects of sex and death
• Working with both men and women and with different age groups, both  separately and together
Additionally, ACORD has adopted the social exclusion analysis tool which has practical processes guiding communities to internalize stigma as well as analyse its manifestation within different communities. Based on their analysis communities can be facilitated to develop responses.In spite of the progress so far made in addressing HIV and AIDS in a number of countries to date.
For more information on ACORD's work on HIV/AIDS visit our HIV and AIDS programme pages 
For contribution to our work on the rights of people living with HIV and prevention visit our donation pages
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  • hiv and aids
  • stigma